Sox, Drew 2-for-2 In Japan

If two exhibition games in Japan are any indication, J.D. Drew might be ready to pick up where he left off last season.

Drew, who salvaged his first season in Boston by hitting .342 with 18 RBI in September and hitting .350 with eight RBI in the AL Championship Series and World Series, hit a grand slam in the sixth inning to give the Red Sox a lead they would not relinquish in a 9-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants, 9-2, in front of a crowd of 44,458 at the Tokyo Dome.

It was the second homer in as many games for Drew, who also laced a three-run blast in the first inning of the Sox' 6-5 win over the Hanshin Tigers Saturday. And the grand slam evoked memories of the back-breaking grand slam he delivered in the first inning of Game Six of the AL Championship Series against the Indians Oct. 20.

Coincidentally, Drew's grand slam against the Indians aired on the scoreboard during a pre-game montage of highlights from the Sox' 2007 season. "I've watched mine [from the ALCS] a few times on the scoreboard—they had it up there, it was pretty neat," Drew told reporters after the game. "I just followed it up—bases loaded, why not? I was really honestly just trying to square a ball up and get a sac fly out of it, hit a ball deep in the outfield and it ends up going over. It can't work out any better than that."

The Sox, who trailed 2-0 before Drew's blast, piled on in the eighth, when they scored three runs, and in the ninth, when they added two more runs. Jed Lowrie, Diehard's no. 4 prospect, hit a solo homer in the eighth while Brandon Moss, Diehard's no. 5 prospect, had two RBI. Coco Crisp and Alex Cora had an RBI apiece. Moss and Kevin Youkilis had two hits each as every starter except Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz had a hit for the Sox.

Tim Wakefield earned the win for the Sox by allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and one walk while striking out three in 5 2/3 innings. He threw 74 pitches (the same amount as Clay Buchholz threw against Hanshin Saturday), 52 for strikes.

Wakefield was as happy with what he got to experience off the field as how he performed on it. "I've always wanted to come here," Wakefield told reporters. "The culture here is very interesting to me and it's been an honor to be here and to be able to pitch here and to get a taste of the culture and do a little sightseeing and see what it's like over here."

Bryan Corey (one-third of an inning), Hideki Okajima (one inning), David Aardsma (one inning) and Julian Tavarez (one inning) combined to allow just two hits over 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief. For Okajima, the outing also represented a homecoming: He pitched 11 seasons for Yomiuri before he signed with the Sox prior to the 2007 season.


Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.

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